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The Influence of Degradation Effects in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells on Life Cycle Assessment Modelling and Environmental Impact Indicators


Although proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) systems are expected to have lower environmental impacts in the operational phase, compared to conventional energy conversion systems, there are still certain economic, operational, and environmental setbacks. Durability under a wide range of operating conditions presents a challenge because degradation processes affect the PEMFC efficiency. Typically, life cycle assessment (LCA) of PEMFC systems do not include performance degradation. Thus, a novel semi-empirical PEMFC model is developed, which includes degradation effects caused by different operational regimes (dynamic and steady-state). The model is integrated into LCA through life cycle inventory (LCI) to achieve a more realistic and accurate evaluation of environmental impacts. Verification of the model clearly showed that the use of existing LCI models underestimates the environmental impacts. This is especially evident when green hydrogen is used in PEMFC operational phase, where manufacturing phase and maintenance (stack replacements) become more influential. Input parameters of the model can be modified to reflect technological improvements (e.g. platinum loading or durability) and evaluate the effects of future scenarios.

Funding source: The authors acknowledge the financial support from the Slovenian Research Agency (research core funding No. P2- 0401).
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Slovenia

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